How Do I Restore A Dull Granite Countertop?

So, your countertops are discolored, are they? That right there is what you call an “oh no” moment. You take pride in your countertops, keeping them immaculate, beautiful and pristine. And, why wouldn’t you? After all, your kitchen and bathroom are very immediate impressions to visitors, more than any other part of your home. And, this is a place with a lot of traffic, a place where you spend a lot of vulnerable time.

Countertops aren’t cheap either unless you’re settling for garbage like Formica. This is a big investment, and the first thought that goes through your mind is probably “oh god, how much is this going to cost me?”. Well, in many cases, you can take solace in the fact that you needn’t spend a fortune replacing sections of countertop – in fact, that’s a colossally bad idea, in the long run, believe it or not.

If you’ve got dulling or stains or discoloration in your granite, it’s important to understand what the causes of this are, and in turn, how to remedy these problems. Today, we’re going to do just that. At Marble Concepts, we have decades of experience working with granite, marble, travertine and many other excellent, high-quality countertop materials. This means we’ve basically seen a thing or two, and we have some genuine advice to offer, advice worth quite a bit.

Causes for Discoloration and Dulling

First, let’s look at the main things that can cause your granite to lose its warmth and liveliness. Granite is tough stuff, of course, so it doesn’t actually stain particularly easy. Heat doesn’t damage it, and even scratches and chips are hard to actually cause. This doesn’t mean it’s indestructible though.

  • Soap Buildup – You often probably wash your countertops with soap. Something like Dawn. This is fine – these antibacterial, grease-cutting soaps work wonders. Feel free to wash pretty much anything with this kind of soap. However, soap does leave a residue over time, on things like countertops, and this can cause dulling or discoloration. It just happens. Soap residue is easy to detect, as it will look similar to oil or fingerprint smudges, but be more distributed and uneven as a result.
  • Hard Water – Water softeners are a hard sell because showering in softened water is better for you, but it feels unpleasant to the uninitiated. So, many people forego these, and that’s ok. But, hard water, which contains a lot of lime and calcium, has its disadvantages. It’s not great for your skin or your body, and it leaves lime and calcium deposits on things like dishes, glass, tile, and countertops. You’ll recognize it as the same kind of grime that builds up on mirrors and shower tile.
  • Acidic Compounds – These are the real menace for something like granite or really any stone. Acidic compounds like some strong cleaners, citric acid, vinegar – these can etch your stone’s surface, leaving permanent discoloration. This is the most involved to recover from too, given its legitimate damage, where the other two aren’t. Fortunately, it’s still possible to restore etched countertops, provided the damage isn’t ridiculously severe, and it’s caught on time.


So, what can you do about these problems? The first two are pretty simple, the latter being a bit of a struggle, but not impossible. No matter what, it is vastly cheaper than replacing these countertops, of course. So, let’s see what can be done for this, shall we?

  • Soap Buildup – Simple clean these surfaces with sterile water and less soap. Yes, you’re using soap to remove soap, and that sounds counterintuitive. Funny, right? But, it’s true, this is what you do to remove soap residue. And, to prevent it in the future, you simply need to use less soap on a regular basis and do a pure water rinse down after you use the soap. It may be a little more work, but it’s not that bad, and it’s worth it.
  • Hard Water – This one requires nastier chemicals, such as ammonia. Ammonia is a non-acidic chemical neutralizer that can break down baked-on or hardened substances like hard water deposits fairly readily. Preventing them in the future is only possible if you’re okay with a water softener which if you’re not, that’s not surprising honestly.
  • Acidic Compounds – This is the harder one to fix, and will require some polishing and stone finishing seals and materials to fix. It’s definitely possible to do this as a DIY project, but it’s best to get professional help with this.

Granite is tough, but remember, nothing is indestructible. To learn more about granite countertop care, fill out our contact form today!